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Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Reviewed by on Mar 31, 2017
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw the new Scarlett Johansson actioner Ghost in the Shell. Does it keep the flavor of the original Manga/Anime? Does it have heart as well as amazing visuals? Check our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

In Ghost in the Shell, Mira Killian/The Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a mid-21st-century anti-terrorist crime fighter with Section 9, an elite government unit. She knows that she is a cyborg. After nearly drowning when her refugee boat went down, her brain was put into a different, better body (and a hot one at that!). But, is this story of her past, fed her by her “doctors”, actually true?

The Major is captured by KuzeThe Major is captured by KuzeCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Who Wants Hanka?

Someone is trying to sabotage Hanka Robotics' artificial intelligence technology by knocking off the company’s scientists and executives. Major is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. Cutter (Peter Ferdinando), head of Hanka Robotics, thinks of her as a unique weapon that must be controlled or destroyed.  

Cutter thinks of The Major as a weaponCutter thinks of The Major as a weaponCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Glitches and Geishas

When a high level Hanko sympathizer is having dinner served by Geisha-style robots, one of them jumps him and starts hacking his brain for info. Major and squad, including Batou (Pilou Asbæk), the only “friend” who thinks of her as human, bust in and kill the robots. A man named Kuze (Michael Pitt) is the “baddie” who sent the Geisha robots. The Major keeps having flash memories, just little pieces of fiery destruction that make no sense. Her boss Chief Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) reminds her that she is not a robot. She has a soul and should accept her uniqueness.

Batou has new cyber-eyesBatou has new cyber-eyesCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Who Am I?

At Hanko, Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) erases memory fragments causing Major’s glitches. She reminds Major that memories don’t define us. What we do does. But, as Major comes closer to finding Kuze, the glitches come back. Batou, who was injured in a blast, gets new “eyes”. He has x-ray and night vision now. When another Hanka scientist is killed, Major discovers a secret project called 2571. She is finally captured by Kuze who is like her, part human, part machine but a mutilated version. He was a failed experiment on the way to making The Major! This was project 2571. There were others. Kuze must stop the company who did this to him.

Who am I?Who am I?Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The Truth?

Major goes rogue, goes to Dr. Ouelet and learns that there were 98 humans experimented upon on the trail to “invent” her! She was fed all of her memories. The story of her family being refugees attacked by terrorists isn’t true. Was she grabbed from her life and not “saved” but kidnapped? Who was she? Is Kuze a good guy? Did she know him in her real past? Can she continue in Section 9 or does she even want to? Can she ever be her true self, the “Ghost” in her high tech shell?

The Major with her Section 9 bossThe Major with her Section 9 bossCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Wrapping Up

I only saw the 1990’s Ghost in the Shell anime movie so I’m not familiar with the popular Manga and anime titles that spawned this film. A few fans did tell me that there are certainly elements of that work in this movie.

The Major and Batou search for KuzeThe Major and Batou search for KuzeCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Ghost in the Shell production design is just amazing. It reminds me of the classic Sci-Fi film Bladerunner which presented a dark future in which hologram advertising billboards dominate a modern but somehow decaying skyline. The movie is fast-paced, full of butt-kicking action yet contains plenty of “heart” as the conflicted, half-cyborg The Major slowly discovers her true past. Scarlett Johansson does a really admirable job of playing just the right mix of dampened emotion and hard purpose. You feel for her as you do for Kuze, the failed early “experiment” living a half-life and longing for revenge.

Scarlett on set with director Rupert SandersScarlett on set with director Rupert SandersCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

The story is multi-leveled but keeps the focus on The Major’s search for her true past. It might be a little complicated for younger tweens to follow but teens should get most of it and all ages will be glued to the flashy action. If you are a Manga purist you might have several complaints that those of us who weren’t that familiar with the original material won’t have. Either way, for me, Ghost in the Shell is an entertaining eye-candy experience with heart. We go four stars.

Ghost in the Shell Movie Rating: 4

Ghost in the Shell Movie PosterGhost in the Shell PosterCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

See Ghost in the Shell in theaters now!


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